I love the mountains. I love the long, slow burning story they tell. I love their offerings of challenge and reward. I love their immensity and their immediate ability to put things in perspective.
I think I love the mountains because of my grandparents. Growing up, they had a beautiful house in West Virginia. If you stuck your head out the window as you climbed their winding gravel driveway, tall, rich green trees said hello with the fresh smell of the woods. At the door, we would meet Nana and Pops with smiles and hugs as we crunched the gravel beneath our feet in excitement.
Inside were sure to be treats, conversation, laughter. The living room had one face with a series of sliding glass doors that lead to one of my favorite places in the world: a wooden porch looking into the mountains. Rocking chairs beckoned you to take a seat, relax, and take in the view. From this heavenly throne, you could see the mountains calling to us, begging to tell us their old secrets and wise observations.
It is one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever known, no doubt a feeling crafted by the love that my grandparents gave us. They encouraged us to chase our dreams with absolute confidence. As a result, mountains became a powerful symbol for me. In the background, mountains see the world made. They represent at once the peace of those rocking chairs and the vibrant conversations around the kitchen table about tomorrow.
Along the way in South America, I saw many mountains and they brought me great joy. I find myself calm and at home in their embrace. While Pops passed away years ago and Nana has since moved away from the mountains of West Virginia, I felt like I was visiting their house every time I took in the dominating presence of mountains all over the continent. I was on the porch again, listening carefully to the landscape.